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Matsumoto Castle and city

We decided on cruising the sights with our free bikes.  Bikes rule in Japan.  They are everywhere and have right of way to everything apart from pedestrians.  Car drivers give bikes a wide berth and are super friendly.  Even when we go up one-way streets in the wrong direction.  No helmets - no problem. Also no lycra in sight anywhere. Bikes are a mode of transport not that much an exercise tool.

We were challenged by these dudes, but made short work of them.  They have much to learn, grasshoppers.
 Matsumoto castle is over 400 years old made out of mainly wood (huge beams) and plaster walls that could withstand gunfire.  The castle architecture is amazing but it is very cold inside.  The castle entry was 620 yen per person and also gave you access to the city museum.
 Authentic preserved guns.
 Bullet making.
 Another authentic gun with a wick.
 Inside the castle, it is all wood and steep staircases to defend.  The castle outside looks like it has 5 floors, but it really has six with a hidden floor inside to store provisions.

 Steep staircases as a last defense.
 Heavy doors on the outside walls.
 In the museum is a model of the old defensible city with three perimeter walls.  This model was made by a school in the early 1900s.  The whole town and castle were built with a military mind.
 Authentic samurai armor.  Looks pretty heavy to me and I am sure wouldn't keep out the cold much.
 Water pistols used to fight fires.
 The castle is not only practical but also stunning.

 How about this for a bike shop.
 One of the original local wells, which is still used as a pure spring water supply for drinking.
 Baum Kuchen (cake on a stick made from rice flour) looks interesting, but we didn't try them.
 But we made the mistake of trying some very expensive sweet potato, which wasn't that great.  And after our Yakitori sticks which most likely were chicken innards, lunch was not the best today. Ah well, you can't always win.
Well, at least our spicy pork & veg and pork & onion stir-frys for dinner made up for a not so good lunch. We had a great experience in a tiny restaurant sitting at the counter chatting to the owner whilst he cooked dinner in front of us. At the end we were presented with some origami made by his wife.

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